San Diegans now have another option to satisfy their sweet tooths without the guilt.
The Lion's Pack (TLP), which opened its first brick-and-mortar shop in Encinitas near Moonlight Beach in July, offers a variety edible vegan and gluten-free cookie dough.
The treat is ideal for people who enjoy sweets but want a healthier alternative to ice cream, said co-owner Erin Hanley.
Each low-carb, high-protein scoop is under 200 calories and contains about five to seven grams of sugar. And unlike store-bought cookie dough — which poses threats of salmonella if eaten right out of the container — TLP's selections are vegan and gluten-free, with no dairy or eggs, and can be eaten raw. (Though Hanley noted customers will often bring the dough home to bake in their ovens.)
While cookie dough shops have popped up around the country over the last several years, Hanley said TLP is the first one with all-vegan and gluten-free selections. The business started as an online store five years ago by San Elijo Hills couple Jeff Denton and Nakelle Denton who wanted to cater to their food allergies while enjoying dessert.
Hanley considered the "health-conscious" community of Encinitas as the "prime location" for such a business. And while the business is located two doors down from Handel's Homemade Ice Cream & Yogurt, she said that doesn't pose a threat as the two shops cater to different clientele.
"The ice cream crowd is a whole different crowd," Hanley said. "It's people that are finding us that have the food allergies, and you can only have so much shaved ice."
She said the shop isn't aiming to promote vegan or gluten-free lifestyles but rather healthier alternatives to desserts like ice cream and frozen yogurt.
"It's just more the lifestyle of high sugar versus low sugar," said Hanley, who also works in real estate. "Do you want to eat a lot of calories and feel guilty about it or do you want something a little healthier?"
And just because the selections are healthier than typical desserts, that doesn't mean the business skimps out on flavors.
The shop offers about a dozen flavors on rotation, with popular selections including Fruity Pebbles, chocolate chip, s'mores and peanut butter cup.
"I love seeing the people with food allergies and seeing their faces," Hanley said. "They can have anything in here."
She did note, however, that some selections include peanuts.
Each month, TLP partners with charities to donate portions of proceeds from customized flavors to the nonprofits. In November, the shop is raising money for the Ryan Seacrest Foundation, which has created a pumpkin chocolate chip flavor.
The shop also sells jars of take-home dough for cookies, cookie dough cookie sandwiches (yes, cookie dough placed between two fresh-baked cookies) and dairy-free soft serve. Later, it plans to offer dessert hummus and gluten-free, vegan soft pretzels.
TLP Cookie Dough is located at 208 North Coast Highway 101. For more information, visit www.tlpcookiedough.com.